A visit to New York City wouldn't be complete without a shopping excursion. President Obama surprised customers at a midtown Gap yesterday by sifting through a wrinkled pile of clothes in search of the perfect tee. Of course, the visit wasn't all fun and games: Obama's appearance was also part of his campaign promoting a newly launched initiative that promises to raise the minimum wage.
Workers were caught off guard when the commander-in-chief appeared, but they did helpfully point him to V-neck table when he asked for help. "I'm worried the V-neck is going to slip," he said. Naturally, the trip angered the New York Post, which splashed a sexist headline across its front page. Here's an unedited picture. -- Jordan Valinsky
POTUS picks out sweaters for the girls and a workout shirt for FLOTUS, says it never hurts to bring something home. pic.twitter.com/GHNWP8xXD5
— Mary Bruce (@marykbruce) March 11, 2014
In November, two women — model Keri Claussen Khalighi and screenwriter Jenny Lumet — accused Def Jam founder and lifestyle entrepreneur Russell Simmons of sexual assault, prompting Simmons to "step aside" from his business empire. On Wednesday, The New York Times and Los Angeles Times recounted the stories of nine more women, four of whom accused Russell of raping them. They said they came forward now because of the Harvey Weinstein scandal and Simmons' denials about sexually assaulting Khalighi and Lumet.
Music producer Drew Dixon, singer Tina Baker, and music journalist Toni Sallie told The New York Times that Simmons raped them in the late 1980s and '90s, and female hip-hop artist Sherri Hines told the L.A. Times he raped her in 1983. Each of the women told friends or family about being raped contemporaneously, the newspapers confirmed. Christina Moore, comedian Amanda Seales, Lisa Kirk, actress Natashia Williams-Blach, and massage therapist Erin Beattie said that Simmons had sexually harassed or propositioned them, often by exposing his genitals.
In a statement to The New York Times, Simmons, 60, said he has "accepted that I can and should get dirt on my sleeves if it means witnessing the birth of a new consciousness about women," but "what I will not accept is responsibility for what I have not done," and when it comes to the rape accusations, "I vehemently deny all these allegations. These horrific accusations have shocked me to my core and all of my relations have been consensual."
Dixon and Sallie left the music business, largely, they say, because of being harassed and assaulted by Simmons and professional gatekeepers like him. Dixon said she can't even listen to the hit music she helped create. "I gave up something that I loved to do," she told The New York Times. "I erased myself," and now "I want people to know why." You can read the detailed allegations at The New York Times and L.A. Times. Peter Weber
On Thursday, the Walt Disney Co. agreed to buy a passel of 21st Century Fox's movie and TV assets for $52.4 billion, giving Disney the 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight film studios and Fox television studio, FX, and the National Geographic Channel. Disney CEO Robert Iger will stay on as head of the combined companies through 2021, Disney also announced. The acquisition will require Justice Department antitrust approval. Analysts say that Disney wanted 21 Century Fox's content for its upcoming video-streaming services. The deal also gives Disney a 60 percent stake in Hulu. "It gives them a little more leverage to compete against new studios such as Netflix," says Boston College Law professor Dan Lyons, and "against cable companies to try to figure out they are going to continue to make money off the declining traditional cable bundle." Peter Weber
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, is expected to approve Pai's proposal to rescind 2015 open internet rules adopted under former President Barack Obama, with Pai and his two fellow Republicans, Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr, voting in favor and Democratic commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel strongly opposed.
The new rules will allow broadband internet providers like Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to block or throttle access to certain websites, or provide special "fast lanes" for sites, apps, or customers who pay extra. They also scrap consumer protections, prevent states from enacting rules that contradict the FCC's, and shift a good deal of the FCC's internet oversight powers to the Federal Trade Commission, which may or may not have the legal authority to regulate large broadband ISPs.
Pai's proposal is broadly unpopular — in a new poll, 83 percent of voters, including 75 percent of Republicans, favored keeping the current net neutrality rules after being presented with vetted arguments from proponents and opponents of Pai's changes by the University of Maryland's Program for Public Consultation. Librarians warn it will cost taxpayers or hurt library users. Critics of the plan are already planning legal challenges, and Congress could also step in.
The proposal dismantles "virtually all of the important tenets of net neutrality itself," telecom and media analysts Craig Moffett and Michael Nathanson write in a note to investors. "These changes will likely be so immensely unpopular that it would be shocking if they are allowed to stand for long." Pai argues that broadband giants will use their newfound powers for good, lowering prices and creating new services, and the broadband industry group USTelecom says the fears are unfounded and overblown. Broadband companies unsuccessfully sued to overturn the 2015 net neutrality rules and lobbied hard for Pai's proposal. Peter Weber
"I'm a little shaky tonight, because my heart has been hurting all day due to a condition my doctor calls 'hope,'" Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show. "Through the rubble of 2017, there was a glimmer of light, because last night, Roy Moore lost to Doug Jones in Alabama." His audience cheered. "It is the best gift ever given on the first night of Hanukkah — you're welcome, Roy Moore's Jewish lawyer," Colbert joked. "Thank you, black voters. It is the best thing African Americans have done for Alabama since they built it for free."
President Trump, who backed Moore, "tweeted something almost sportsmanlike" to Jones, Colbert said. But he predicted that Trump will end up deleting his tweets in support of Moore, just as he did with Luther Strange, "because backing a racist, homophobic teen-squeezer is one thing, but backing a loser, that's off-brand."
"African American women in Alabama really dealt Trump a blow last night, and Trump reached out to them today by firing his only female African-American adviser," Omarosa Manigault Newman. "Folks, this is huge. With Omarosa gone, who's gonna be in charge of...?" She reportedly didn't go quietly. Colbert wasn't sad at her departure, but he was a little disappointed that Trump let White House Chief of Staff John Kelly do the deed: "What the hell? Firing Omarosa is literally the only job Donald Trump is qualified for!"
Moore hasn't conceded, and he's hoping for a recount, against all odds. "But Roy Moore has one more way he thinks he could still win this Senate seat," Colbert said: divine intervention. "So I can't help but wonder: Is God really going to save Roy Moore's candidacy?" "No way, Jose," said the Late Show God. "I don't have time for that. Besides, Roy Moore doesn't need me — he can perform his own miracles: losing to a Democrat in Alabama." Watch below. Peter Weber
GOP Rep. Blake Farenthold admits to regularly calling staffers one particular vulgar name, says it was 'in jest'
Former aides to Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) have described his Capitol Hill office as a beer-fueled frat house where sexual innuendo and angry outbursts by the congressman are commonplace, and on Wednesday, another former staffer, Michale Rekola, provided some more details to CNN. "Every time he didn't like something, he would call me a f--ktard or idiot," said Rekola, Farenthold's communications director for nine months in 2015. "He would slam his fist down in rage and explode in anger."
Another former aide, Elizabeth Peace, confirmed that Farenthold would regularly use the word "f--ktards" on staffers, and Farenthold admitted doing so to CNN. He said he used the term "in jest, not in anger," though "in hindsight, I admit it wasn't appropriate." Peace also confirmed Rekola's account of crude sexual comments Farenthold made right before Rekola left town to get married. "Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time," Farenthold said, according to Rekola. He said Farenthold also joked suggestively that his fiancée maybe shouldn't wear white on her wedding day. "Every staffer in that area heard it," Peace told CNN. "It was the most shocking thing I'd heard him say at that point."
Exclusive: A former senior aide to Rep. Blake Farenthold describes new details of the congressman’s abusive behavior, including sexually graphic jokes to berating aides, that led to physical and emotional distress https://t.co/tvYGClZaLG https://t.co/N7JGqBOthP
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) December 14, 2017
Rekola developed serious stomach problems while working at Farenthold's office, and after returning from his honeymoon, he quit. Farenthold's treatment of staffers came to light with the news that he settled a sexual harassment claim by a former aide with $84,000 in public funds. He is not stepping down and plans to run for re-election next year, though he will face some strong challengers in the GOP primary. Peter Weber
"Alabama has gone blue!" Trevor Noah marveled on Wednesday's Daily Show. He congratulated Senator-elect Doug Jones (D) on his victory, then said he didn't even really know what Jones looks like. "The truth is, in this race, nobody really paid attention to Doug Jones," Noah said. "The only question was: Who is Alabama gonna choose? An accused pedophile or a person allowed to babysit?"
Republicans are now left with a one-vote majority, but they only have themselves to blame for going with "Cowboy Roman Polanski," who still hasn't admitted he lost, Noah said, playing parts of Moore's non-concession speech. "My man, you're waiting to see what God is going to say? Alabama, after 25 years, just went Democrat. If there ever was an act of God, this is it. ... If I was God, I'd be so pissed at Roy Moore, I'd be like, 'Yo, dude, I gave you the biggest sign — I literally parted a red sea!'"
On Late Night, Seth Meyers mostly wanted to talk about Republicans. "One big question after the results came in was how will Donald Trump react? And surprisingly, he seemed to strike a conciliatory tone," he said, reading the tweet. "There is no way Donald Trump wrote that tweet. He probably went to the bathroom and forgot his phone, and somebody said, 'This is our chance, write something decent!'"
Meyers said this is a big black eye for Trump, the Republican Party, and Stephen Bannon, who made a big gaffe at Moore's madcap closing rally. "How stupid do you have to be to insult the University of Alabama in Alabama?" Meyers asked. "Who do you think they're going to support? Roll Tide or someone who looks like he literally rolled up in the tide?"
On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert turned the end of the campaign into a plausible TV theme song, "The Legend of Roy Moore." Watch below. Peter Weber
Had the fuel light not gone on in his car, Dr. Javier Soto would never have stopped at a Speedway gas station in Merritt Island, Florida, on Saturday, and had he never stopped at the gas station, he wouldn't be able to tell people about the baby he delivered there in the back of a pickup truck.
While filling up, Soto, an OB/GYN, was approached by a man who saw he was wearing blue hospital scrubs and asked if he was in the medical field, Soto told People. The man said his fiancée was in labor in the back of his truck, and when Soto ran over, he realized he knew the woman — she was one of his former patients, who switched doctors because of her insurance. The baby's head was already visible, so Soto jumped into action, asking the man to run inside the station to ask for gloves and scissors and the friend who was driving the truck for his shoelaces.
After just one push, a baby boy was born, and after drying him off, Soto wrapped the shoelace around the umbilical cord and cut it. An ambulance arrived to take the new family of three to the hospital, and Soto followed behind. Both the mother and baby "are doing great," Soto said, and after checking them out he delivered another baby — this time in the hospital, not a parking lot. Catherine Garcia